Every four years football rules the world when the FIFA World Cup takes place. There are a lot of people who hate it when that happens. But there are probably even more people who love it. And I am one of them.
Despite living in Great Britain for almost 10 years I still cheer for the German team, probably because I’ve always done so. Although the Germans didn’t play bad at all during the last three world cups I still didn’t believe they would win it this time. There always seems to be a team which is slightly better, a little more clever and maybe also more eager for the title. For the 2014 tournament I was sure that the host, Brazil, wouldn’t let anybody stop them on their way to the sixth title. Well, anybody except possibly the Spanish team which had dominated international football in the last six years. But just like the rest of the football world I was in for a big surprise.
It begun during the group stage: after a shocking 1:5 defeat against the Netherlands Spain also lost 0:2 to Chile and became one of the first teams to be eliminated from the world cup. Overall a lot of the so called small teams were doing really well: Chile, Columbia and Costa Rica all reached the knockout stage without problems, while two more former world cup champions, England and Italy, were eliminated. It seems that the concept of big teams and small teams is no longer meaningful, which makes the whole spectacle even more enjoyable.
Germany had a tough group with Ghana, Portugal and the USA. Except for a hard-fought draw against Ghana everything went as hoped for and the team reached the knockout stage. In the round of the last sixteen the German team met Algeria, the best African team at this world cup. The German team struggled against the well defending Algerians for a long time before they finally managed to win the match in extra time with 2:1. But their performance had been far from convincing. However for the next match the German trainer Joachim Löw changed the tactics and to my big surprise the team managed to defeat the French team, who had played an excellent world cup until that point, with 1:0. But in the semi final the Germans had a mountain to climb: they were up against Brazil.
The upcoming match triggered painful memories of the 2002 world cup. After an abysmal performance at the UEFA Euro 2000 the German team reached the final of the world cup with luck and fighting spirit. But they found their match in the Brazilian team with their outstanding striker Ronaldo who ended the German aspiration for a fourth championship with his two goals. I wasn’t sure that this year’s semi final would go any better, in particular because the Brazilian team just had to win the tournament on home soil. Their football crazy nation wouldn’t accept anything less.
But 29 minutes into the match everything had changed. Brazil were down with five goals and heading for the worst defeat in the history of their outstanding football team. The game ended 7:1 for Germany, breaking several records. Brazil had definitely been at a disadvantage after losing their best player Neymar (injury) and their captain Thiago Silva (second yellow card) in the previous game. But their performance was still inexcusably poor. The Germans on the other hand played quick, precise, elegant and efficient. They made their seven goals look easy. By the end of the second half the Brazilian crowd were cheering for the German team. It was unbelievable. I’ve been watching FIFA world cups since 1978 and have never seen anything like this before.
After their stunning victory in the semi final the German team was of course the favourite for winning the title. But in the last match they faced the Argentinian team, the second football super power in South America. The two teams had met in two previous world cup finals with each of them emerging victorious once. It was a tough and exciting match with major goal-scoring opportunities for both sides. But after 113 minutes it was Germany’s Mario Götze who scored the decisive goal. The rest is legend: Germany won their fourth world cup title.
Let me finish with a quote by my beloved wife: I think that went rather well. 🙂